May 21, 2014

MI-BM996_bcci2_DV_20120109193749“Mr. Abedi’s only crime was that he stood up and fought the disciples of the evils in the developed world,” Jam Saddiq Ali, a Pakistani politician, said at the time of the U.S. extradition request.

In Pakistan, Abedi was seen as a modern Robin Hood, taking from the West and giving to the Third World. His bank built hospitals and schools in Pakistan, and the BCCI foundation gave millions of dollars in scholarships and research grants.

Many of us who don’t  know about MR.AGHA HASAN ABEDI  also known as “Agha Sahab”   born in Lucknow (India), in a family of noble descent. After taking a masters degree in English Literature and graduating in Law, he began his banking career in Bombay with Habib Bank. The partition of the Indian Sub-Continent in 1947 brought about dramatic changes in its banking system. It created a near vacuum of banking services in the area, which became Pakistan. Habib Bank Limited moved its Head Office to Pakistan in order to fill this vacuum and became virtually the unchallenged leading bank . 

Seeing a unique opportunity to fulfill his inborn urge to grow and succeed, Mr Abedi made an important contribution in the growth of the newly established bank. By 1958, he felt that the economic development of the new nation of Pakistan called for greater competition and innovation in its banking system. Therefore in 1958, he founded a new bank – United Bank Limited. In addition to the considerable banking experience he is said to have acquired, he had also developed new approaches to management and business development, which stressed individual development and autonomy. Sadly, this is still not a reality in most organizations. Business development became a primary objective of management. Within ten years of its foundation, the United Bank had become the second largest bank in Pakistan and when banks were nationalized in Pakistan in 1973  it was almost as large as the largest bank in that country in terms of assets.

Mr. Abedi was the first banker in Pakistan to realize the potential of people and markets, particularly overseas. As a consequence, United Bank successfully established itself in several Middle Eastern countries and the United Kingdom. At the beginning of the 1970’s he began to feel, in the restrictive exchange control climate of the home country (Pakistan), that it would be very difficult to sustain the expansion of UBL’s foreign operations. Also with the emergence of the new socio-political trends in the country, nationalization of the banking sector appeared imminent. It was with this background that he is thought to have conceived the idea of the establishment of an international bank in a country, which offered facilities for growth and expansion


When banks in Pakistan were nationalised in 1972, Agha went on to start the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). He persuaded the Arabs to invest in it, which turned into one of the largest banks in the world, spreading its influence through offices in 72 countries around the world. It employed some 16, 000 people and Agha made sure that a majority of the employees were Pakistani nationals. Such was his spirit towards his homeland. Over 80 per cent of the top executives of the bank were Pakistani. $2.5 million investment by the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Mr. Abedi built B.C.C.I. into an international financial force. At its peak in the 1980′s, the bank had 14,000 employees, 400 offices in 72 countries, 1.3 million depositors and more than $20 billion in assets .

BCCI’s influence went beyond everyone’s expectations. It became a big player throughout the world and expanded at a great pace, making BCCI a dominant force worldwide. Hence, it was decided by some that it was time for the BCCI to go. BCCI was accused of funding Pakistan’s nuclear program, Palestinian fighters, money laundering and various other charges. Agha became a wanted man internationally. Pakistan’s government gave him full protection and refused to hand him over. Agha was maligned in the international media and the bank was alleged to have links with international intelligence agencies. Mired in controversy, the bank was torn apart . Abedi relinquished control of BCCI in 1988 after having two heart attacks. He also suffered a stroke, which resulted in brain damage and the partial loss of his voice.

Three years later, on July 5, 1991, international regulators shut down BCCI’s worldwide operations, linking the bank to massive fraud and theft and connecting it to clandestine arms deals, the financing of terrorists and laundered drug money.

Agha was a visionary. He introduced computer science in Pakistan, back when few knew what it even was. He donated Rs100 million to form the BCCI Foundation for Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) in 1980 to promote computer science in Pakistan. The year 2000 saw this foundation create FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, a premier multi-campus university with campuses in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Moreover, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) was also a brainchild of the same man. Both these schools have produced many scientists and engineers who are contributing heavily towards Pakistan’s economy.



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